Archive for November, 2009

New Style Hockey Puck
Tim Anderson from Philadelphia Engine 16 sent in these pictures of an interesting find. The first floor of the structure appears to be vacant, but the apartments above are probably still be occupied. The first floor is protected by three roll down gates. The two roll down gates on the sides are secured with the usual American Series 2000 Hockey Puck Locks, the center gate is secured with something a little different.

The traditional Series 2000 lock has been removed and the lock casing has been filled with cement. Instead of dealing with the locks, and what they may or may not be doing to secure the door, it seems like cutting the gate itself may be the best option.


Roof Ops

Gotta love this. This is an Associated Press video from Portland (OR.) Check out how quick conditions improve, when it’s coming out like that it’s no longer beating up the crews inside. Unfortunately the video starts a little later than we would have liked to have shown, but you get the point. It appears that they are just finishing punching through the ceiling below as the video starts. While we understand that many departments do not support vertical ventilation, it’s hard not to agree with its effectiveness (that is not an invitation to argue it here either.) Some people get startled when it lights off like that, remember, that’s what’s supposed to happen. This allows the crews inside to press-on to the seat of the fire and take care of business. A vent like this DRAMATICALLY IMPROVES the conditions on the inside. Get the vent and get off the roof, job well done.


Interesting Training

We’re not even sure what to say about this one. A camper, live fire and a leaf blower… Really?
This video was sent to us by our friends over at


Parapet Add-On

Bill Schnaekel and Lt Rich Dawley from Fairfax County (VA) Tower Ladder 430 sent in these photos of an interesting parapet and roof structure. Getting a 360 is also just as important when “making the roof” as with any other fireground operations. A close look from Side A may alert the observant roof team. A view from Side C shows that the parapet has about an 8 foot drop, it seems apparent that the parapet was added during some sort of renovation. Certainly everyone would notice it prior to stepping off the roof, but the best time to notice it would be prior to the call. It could create some minor delays in having to reposition ground ladders or apparatus.


Interesting Door

Lt. Tim Moody from Marion County (FL) Engine 11 sent in this door he and the crew found during some pre-planning. From the outside the door doesn’t look like anything special, but if that was the case it wouldn’t have ended up here. Click here to find out the details.


Change YOUR Battery!

For many years now, the fire service has reminded citizens to change their smoke detector battery when the clocks change. While that is a great reminder for them, we need to take notice ourselves. Change YOUR backup flashlight’s batteries!

Your backup flashlight is really not much different than a smoke detector. It’s something you may not even notice is around, but when you need it, it needs to work without fail (just like your smoke detector.) The unfortunate thing about backup flashlights is that most of us will throw one in the pocket of our gear, and never think much about. When the time comes that we need it, we reach into our pocket, turn it on, and hope or the best. Your backup flashlight needs to be treated like a piece of life safety equipment. While that may sound a bit extreme, it should at least be treated with some consideration. Obviously, we are all comfortable functioning in a zero visibility environment without a problem, but lets save that for when it has to happen, not just because we didn’t maintain our flashlight. Every one of us has had a rechargeable die within moments of it coming out of the charger. We certainly don’t always charge them within the manufacture’s recommendations. An alkaline powered backup light lessens the likelihood of being without light when this occurs. If you don’t have one, GO GET ONE!

We need to change our batteries periodically whether we use the flashlight or not. Changing the batteries once every other month is not a bad idea, or at a minimum, twice a year when the clocks change. If these batteries still have some juice, they can be re-used in less important electronic devices around the house. If nothing else, the battery compartment of your flashlight needs to be opened up and “burped” every now and then. Many of the fire department style flashlights are waterproof for obvious reasons. These flashlights tend to have sealed battery compartments in order to keep water out. An alkaline battery tends to “off gas” over time and ends up chewing the light apart from the inside out like shown in the picture below. Have you ever seen a light not work because of corroded batteries? This is what we’re talking about. The simple fix is just to open the battery compartment from time to time and let everything breathe a bit. Some of the newer or higher-end flashlights have a one-way valve in the battery compartment to prevent this from happening. However, we have on occasion, seen these valves get clogged with fireground debris and have even seen new flashlights ruined because they were not occasionally “burped.”

Any piece of battery operated equipment can and will fail without warning! This is why we need to have a plan B. With very little effort, it’s quite simple to always have a reliable flashlight on hand, and every one of us has had a moment where a little extra light could have made our jobs a whole lot easier. Work smarter not harder. Let us all take a moment to change OUR battery to ensure our plan B will work for us when needed.

Editorial note: A special thanks goes out to Lt. Rich Taylor and Lt. Brad Grainger from Winter Park (FL) Firehouse 61 for hunting down a broken flashlight and taking these pictures for us. Also, we had another post about different styles of flashlights back in September 2007 written by Lieutenant Walt Lewis from Orlando Fire titled Flashlight Wrap that would be great supplemental reading for this post.